LOCKPORT, N.Y.-One thing the recession teaches you, insists Niagara County's FCU, is that you can't make it through a downturn without some difficult choices.

For Niagara County, said CEO Nancy Kasprzak-Whitmore, that has meant cutting rates, and recommending investment alternatives even outside the CU to members as deposits flooded in. "With the huge influx of cash and not enough lending to match the new shares, our ratios are being squeezed thin enough to have us concerned. We have lowered dividend rates to next to nothing and discontinued certificate offerings until further notice to discourage the influx of funds-across the board."

The $48-million NCFCU is also considering fees on small business accounts with high balances and/or high transaction volumes, which are adding to the ratio squeeze. "We really hate to do these things," said Kasprzak-Whitmore. "But that's where we're at with not much to look at in investment returns and with members who think so highly of us, they want us to be the ones to care for their life savings."

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